2012 was a bumper year for SSDs. Thanks to improved technology, reliability, and perhaps more importantly, reduced costs, SSDs are fast gaining popularity amongst consumers as their preferred choice of storage. And this year’s Tech Awards saw us comparing no less than 10 SSDs - compared to last year's six.
To make the cut, the SSD had to be from the company’s high-end range, be introduced in 2012, offered in either 256GB or 240GB capacities, and have a SATA 6Gbps interface.
After putting the drives through our grueling tests, one drive stood above the rest, and it was the Corsair Neutron GTX. In our testing, we found it to be the fastest, and one of the most consistent drives. This was mostly due to its unique controller. Unlike most SSDs today which have either a SandForce or Marvell controller, Corsair opted instead to go for the LM87800 controller from Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD).
LAMD is no newcomer to storage controllers, and it has been in the storage business for the past eight years. The LM87800 is not the company’s first SSD controller either, but most of their controllers have been for enterprise use.
However, the controller is only half the story, and although there’s no word if Corsair had a hand in developing the firmware for the drive, we do know that both Corsair and LAMD did collaborate on validation and bug-fixing. The final piece of the puzzle is the NAND memory chips and those found in the Neutron GTX are 24nm Toggle Mode NAND chips from Toshiba.
With the pieces of the puzzle together, the Corsair Neutron GTX was nothing less than a speed demon, blazing through our benchmarks like a hot knife through butter. In our tests, we found it to be consistently the top or amongst the top-performing drives. Performance aside, it offered decent accessories - like an HDD bay installation bracket - and was priced reasonably.
Looking at its competitors, the ones that came closest to challenging the Corsair for the top honor were the Intel SSD 520 Series, OCZ Vector, SanDisk Extreme, and Transcend SSD720. These drives were no slouch in the performance department, but they just weren't as quick as the Corsair. Furthermore, drives like the SanDisk Extreme, whilst fast, lacked basic accessories such as even an adapter. Additionally, the OCZ Vector, though quick, commanded a significant premium.
|Criteria/Model||ADATA SX900||Corsair Neutron GTX||Crucial M4||Intel SSD 520 Series||Kingston HyperX 3K||OCZ Vector||Plextor M5 Pro||SanDisk Extreme||Strontium Hawk||Transcend SSD720|
For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.